Wednesday, December 21, 2005

<title>Rob Clarkson at the Grace Emily</title>

Lately I’ve been ripping my whole music collection to my hard drive and its making me feel a bit musical. So I dragged my domestic self to a couple of gigs in the past two gigs.
<unnecessary context>
Rob has been around for at least 15 years, the first time I heard him was a song that got heavy rotation on JJJ, back in 1995ish. I remember enjoying the song that I always referred to as “beautiful boys go out with beautiful girls” though I could never figure out what it was called or who sung it because of a short attention span when dealing with the radio. The song sort of stuck with me for awhile, so much so that when I discovered the internet in 1998 (I was late) I’d routinely try and search for the song using altavista – but I always came up empty handed. It was a lost cause. Then last year I was at a lucksmiths concert when the support guy started singing that tune. I may have done a spit take with my beer but I did remember the name. Rob Clarkson.
Well, Rob hadn’t released a new album for ten years or so besides a best of compliation /live double cd recorded in the mid90s. So last week he did a free show and I went. And about 15 other people (not including the 15 people at the front bar). It was a Thursday and I had spent the previous couple of hours shopping for groceries – sigh – Emma was out at the channel 7 Xmas party swanning it up with the weather girl and a reporter from Today Tonight (actually I’m not sure who was there – she went to the channel 10 xmas party in sydney the week before and drank with Sandra Sully – so from then on I decided not to enquire who was at these functions because the jealousy would kill me. Plus Emma doesn’t tell me who is hosting these parties anymore because she then gets a list of complaints to pass on to the station “Can you please ask them to stop fucking with the Shield?” “Can you get me tickets to Foo Fighters?” “can you get them to stop fucking with Arrested Development?” “Can we see more of Sandra Sully’s knee and less of skelator?” Etc). Today she had a meeting with Channel 10 and she told of my mispleasure/alarm of having to see 40 year hairy minge expelling humans on a saturday night at 7:30.
</unnessary context>
<gig review>
I turned up half way through the support act. I completely missed who she was, part of my brain wants to say Sugar Barker – but I think that has more to do with lunch coming up than her name. Anyway, folksy singer with a guitar who was pretty good.
</gig review>
She did have the annoying habit of introducing her songs with loads of context. “I wrote this song when my new flat mate moved in with me about 15 months ago. When he moved in with all his stuff it seemed like we had known each other for a really long time and we are best friends now, so I wrote this song on how familiarity isn’t always borne out of family” and “I wrote this song when I was 16 and I found it recently and discovered that it was still pretty good, I wrote it when I had a crush on a boy in my high school but he was blah blah blah”. Doesn’t she know that long unnecessary context is my schtick! I was worried that there was going to be an exam.
<more gig review>
Anyway she finished and Rob came on. He looked a lot different from what I remember, less shaved head dero more mulleted first year accountant but once he started to sing he’s easily recognisable, a nasally high pitched whine which is actually and surprisingly enjoyable to listen to. That very night motorhead/motely crue were playing so he did a version of “bad medicine” which was quite humorous. Rob’s a humorous guy and he writes humorous songs which is all well and good, there’s something very Woody Allen about him, that mix of laughter and sadness (in films like Manhattan, Annie Hall) creates this melancholic atmosphere which seems to get the “point” across (for example the nature of love and relationships in Allen’s Films).
</more gig review>
But recently, in the last ten years or so, there’s this culture of cute where everything has to have little injokes or be filled with bratty/witty characters. Guys like Tarantino, Whedon, Bendis, Prince Paul seem to be less interested in making a point and more interested in being smart, showing off their influences and whatnot and it gets a bit boring. I know this’ll get cries of anguish but the idea of watching wacky 2D characters fly around in space making smart alec comebacks for 90 minutes in Serentity fills me with dread. Tarantino’s self indulgence, Bendis’ witty dialogue but inability to write fully formed characters in a proper plot, the DangerMouse/MC Doom Saturday cartoon inspired album just bores me; its all so superficial, pandering to nostalgic nerds and essentially meaningless.
Rob seems to skim that culture of cute; one song about him relating to friends with kids hits home with me but then there are little ‘clever’ lyrics like </span>“you propagate the species but did you have to mention up faeces” sort of bring me out of the song (even to think ‘oh how clever’). Then again, at the gig with a bunch of other people – I forget that sort of thing and just stand with a pint and enjoy it.
</additional gig review>
Except for all the friends of the support act who would stagger from the beer garden and do bullshit kisses bye and leave. That’s all well in good in a crowded pub when a gig is going, but there was only about 12 people in a small alcove, so when Johnny Public Servant in his crappy slip on leather shoes from 2002, who’s dragging his nervous looking girlfriend goes to say goodbye to folksy art singer in her oh so retro frock and they all make a big song and dance about
“Oh thanks for coming”
“no problem, erm you were good see you at work tomorrow”
“moi moi”
it’s all a bit fucking distracting and verging on rude when you consider the support act is involved.
<gig review conclusion>
The show went for about 45 minutes, so I was slightly disappointed that it was so short and he didn’t play many songs from his old days but for free I can’t complain. For the first show I’d seen for a couple of months it was pretty good.
</gig review conclusion>

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